If—and this is a fairly big if—the Nats re-sign Anthony Rendon, either Luis Garcia or Carter Kieboom will have no path to the Nats’ starting lineup. One of them may well be expendable — and if Mike Rizzo wants to make the most of this team that likely won’t have as good a shot at a deep October run as they do now for a long time, they should run under the impression that they’ll re-sign Rendon and trade one for a great reliever. Caution, at this point, doesn’t seem like it’ll bear many fruits other than the best case scenario of an early exit in the playoffs.
Here’s the scoop from South Capitol:
Nats facing major obstacles as trade deadline approaches (MASN)
"The Nationals need bullpen help. Their list of desirable prospects isn’t nearly as long as it has been in the past. They can’t afford to take on much more salary without surpassing the league’s luxury tax threshold, something the organization is openly saying it won’t do. Almost every contending team is also in the market for relievers. So many teams are bunched up in the wild card race, especially in the National League, that there aren’t many legitimate sellers right now. Once July 31 passes, there’s no longer an opportunity to acquire players via August waiver trades."
Busy Nationals make five roster moves, but Max Scherzer’s status remains uncertain (WaPo)
Ryan Zimmerman went to the IL. Michael Blazek came up. Justin Miller went to the 60-day IL. Kyle McGowin went to Harrisburg, and Andrew Stevenson came from Fresno. Got it?
As MLB trade deadline nears, Mike Rizzo and the Nationals are buyers on a budget (WaPo)
The Nationals, despite a few months that led everyone to believe otherwise, are indeed buyers at this deadline, which is significantly more complicated than the selling option was, because the Nats have few pieces to move and they don't want to exceed the luxury tax (the competitive balance tax threshold), meaning it'll be hard to convince teams to send money along for the meager prospect offerings they have. (They could also use another starting pitcher.)
Washington’s Stephen Strasburg Is Finally Pitching Like an Ace (The Ringer)
Stephen Strasburg has quietly been the second best pitcher in baseball this season, stuck in Max Scherzer's shadow but suffocating hitters with ground balls and keeping all of his other peripherals in tact. He's living up to the insane expectations with more off-speed and lower velocity (which he's done before, so this isn't new, folks!), and nobody is noticing. (Now is the time to knock on wood.)
Scherzer "feels good" after bullpen session; Zimmerman back to IL (MASN)
Scherzer knows the injury can come back, which is why the Nats have treated him with kid gloves. But he thinks he's on the right side of the injury and can help the team whenever he's called upon at this point.
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo talks Trade Deadline (MLB.com)
There are eight days before the trade deadline, and no major deals have gone down yet, which may be because the NL is so bunched up — but the deals have to get done before July 31st, and the Nats aren't keen on dealing Carter Kieboom.
Ryan Zimmerman to IL with plantar fasciitis (MLB.com)
Zim's stint on the IL with the foot problem is his third in five seasons and his second this year — and the worst part of it all is there's no timeline whatsoever for the pain to go away.
Nationals the latest team to extend protective netting in stadium (NBCSW)
"The Nationals return to the nation’s capital Monday night for their first homestand of the season’s second half. When they do, players and fans may notice a slight change at Nationals Park: extended netting."
Max Scherzer wants to pitch soon (MLB.com)
Scherzer needs one more thing to go right: he needs to walk into the clubhouse this morning and tell Davey Martinez that he's good to go. If that's what happens, then he'll either get the ball on Thursday or Friday, depending on what Martinez thinks is best.
Jim Bowden’s Trade Deadline Diary: With nine days left, who needs what — and where can they get it? (The Athletic)
The Nationals will get another reliever before the deadline passes, Bowden says, and they want multi-year control.
A wish list for the Nationals at the trade deadline: Potential targets and who could be moved (The Athletic)
The Nats have some arms to target, though few obvious targets are apparent. They have some pieces to move, though they probably don't want to part with them. They're close to the luxury tax line, but they don't want to cross it. This is going to require some creativity, folks.
Nationals ace Scherzer throws bullpen session before rainout (AP/FOX)
“I did the full routine,” Scherzer said. “Everything feels good. Ball’s coming out of my hand exactly the way it should feel like at 100 percent. I’ve been wanting the ball, so hopefully I can pitch here really soon.”